Churches and monasteries

Most churches and monasteries you will see at Zagori, predate most houses: houses were built, destroyed and added on as history progressed and most houses standing today, renovated or otherwise, have the form they acquired in the era of prosperity, at the end of the 18th century.

Churches and monasteries however are much older: some date as far back as the 16th century, even further back, though later additions are not unusual.

Stone-built like everything else here, the churches and monasteries in Zagori are austere on the outside and beautifully decorated on the inside, invoking feelings of piety and calm. Featuring tall, square or hexagonal bell towers (sometimes found across from the main building), covered porticos to help weather the pious from the elements and tiny doors to discourage horse mount sacrilege, they are discreet and serene, sometimes even eerie.

On the inside they burst with religious murals and hagiographies and wooden carved templons, most works of local artists, as the travelling hagiographers and wood carvers from Kapesovo were famous and sought after in the 18th and 19th centuries, establishing their own distinct style and adorning churches near and far.

During the big religious holidays, or on the day of the celebration of their namesake saint, the churches and monasteries come alive with people from all over Zagori, sometimes from further away, coming to Mass, then celebrating in the sometimes days’ long “panygiria”, or religious feasts.

If one is happening while you are here, do not miss it. But the churches and monasteries of Zagori are worth a visit even if there is no celebration around: their simple, artful beauty will capture your heart and mind. And who knows? Maybe you will decide to have your celebration in one of them, a christening or a wedding!